E-DEMOCRACY | Are raises on state legislative salaries necessary?


From: Edward Davis Date: Apr 16 15:09

When I learned about the salaries of Hennepin (~97K) & Ramsey (~80K) County Commissioners and St. Paul Council Members (~56K), I was disappointed. However, I always looked to and admired our State Legislators as a ray of hope. These people work very hard on an irregular schedule that would disrupt any person’s life significantly and they get ~31K plus a Per Diem. Although the Per Diem can add up and may not be needed for those in the Twin City metro, I respected and venerated these people for doing a civil duty for a compensation that better reflected the civic nature of the job. However, I learned this month that the Legislature has succumbed to the commercialization of a civic duty.

Senate: Time to raise pay for Minnesota’s lawmakers

As I said, I truly respect the hard work of these people. However, I feel that the core of this occupation is to give to the community without making a financial career of it. Although this view may be idealistic, it seems especially true at the local and state level representation.

Yet, if this utopian view does not ring for you, it also seems strange that the legislature chooses to raise salaries during the financial stress of Minnesota. Whether you agree with increases in taxes (or fees – Whatever they are called.) or further cuts, there are funding issues for State agencies and services. Yet, the legislature chooses to raise their salary? It is frustrating for those of us struggling to make our monthly bills.

Please drop this bill and give us hope again.


Ed Davis

From: David Tilsen Date: Apr 16 16:50

I understand what Ed is saying, but I respectfully disagree. If we don’t pay our elected officials enough to stay out of poverty, then we are saying that we either want only people who are independently wealthy or people who are willing to live on and for most of them raise a family on an income level that is essentially a vow of poverty. I am not comfortable with that. I prefer people who live in the real world, are making responsible decisions for themselves and their family, and who know what a half gallon of milk, or a trip to the doctor’s office costs to be the ones wrestling with the difficult decisions of the state budget and policy.

David Tilsen
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From: David Frenkel Date: Apr 16 19:18

I am not a fan of career politicians. If somebody wants to make public service their short term goal that is great but for people who want a well paid political career I am not in favor. What always amazes me are well intended people that have families (i.e. children) that they sacrifice family time (i.e. raising children) for their political calling and then complain how little they spend with their families. I would encourage politicians, especially those that run on any type of family values platform, not to run for public office until their children are self reliant. You only raise children once and politics will always be there.

David Frenkel

From: steve scholl Date: Apr 16 19:52

I do not think being a legislator should be a full-time career. I know some will say that it takes a certain number of years to learn the process, etc. Others will say that the level of quality of the legislators will suffer if the salary is not sufficiently high. My response is that being a legislator should be how one serves the community for a limited period of time. The salary should not be one that will allow a legislator to quit his or her ‘day job’. As for the quality of the candidates, there have always been a plethora of candidates for legislative seats. I doubt that those who become candidates for the legislature do so for the salary. I would wager that most would still become candidates were the salary only half of wht it is today. steve scholleagan

From: Bill Kahn Date: Apr 16 22:32

I think the best argument for paying legislators well enough is that they learn a great deal during their hitches, enough to make many times more what they are paid as our representatives once they get loose from that service. I think most of them probably go back to unrelated endeavors (like that’s possible, so say not directly related) or other public service, but enough trade on their experience for profit that I think it is a big problem for folks who think corporate control of law making is not the rule.

The learning curve is not really all that high, but it is high enough that I don’t like losing good people who represent me to be replaced by those who may or may not cut the mustard.

We’re at a tipping point, I think, where we now have too much for one Legislature to accomplish in one session. It is not just the partisan deadlock on ideological issues; there just is not time enough to get things done.

The idea that we have part-time legislators is ridiculous. We all have year round access to our state representatives and senators and they work twice as hard as most of us do the whole year, during the session.

Until we can change to a full time legislature with full time pay, I think that fair pay is not optional.

Bring on the pay raises.

From: Ken Bearman Date: Apr 17 20:58

On 4/16/2013 10:09 AM, Ed Davis wrote:
> Yet, if this utopian view does not ring for you, it also seems strange
> that the legislature chooses to raise salaries during the financial
> stress of Minnesota. … Yet, the legislature chooses to raise
> their salary?
= = = = =
[Ken B.] Whatever anybody thinks about raising legislative, executive, and judicial salaries, please get all your facts right. The bill was based on a recommendation from the Compensation Council, which isn’t a committee of the Legislature. Furthermore, the legislative pay increase can’t go into effect until after the next election, or in 2015.

See the /Pioneer Press/ article reporting the Council’s recommendation: http://www.twincities.com/politics/ci_22760005/minnesota-government-leaders-pay-increases-proposed

IMO, critics might want to focus on the legislative per diem payments instead of the base salary.

There are 12 posts on this topic as of April 19, 2013. Read the full thread here.